Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia co-ran the informal discussion Art Residency as an Adventure. The Artist’s Strategies and Local Context. Hosted by Garage Studios at VDNKh and bringing together Russian artists who participated in Pro Helvetia’s programs of art residencies and the program Garage Studios and Artist Residencies, the discussion, moderated by the curator of the second edition of Garage Artist Residencies Valentin Diaconov, also featured the first foreign practitioner invited to work in the studios, the Swiss artist Anna Meschiari.
Touching upon a variety of issues, including the organization and programming of artist residencies, the participants shared their experience of working in residencies of various formats in different countries, explained the limitations that they had to cope with, as well as the advantages and unexpected circumstances an art residency can provide. Among the topics discussed was the question of finding a balance between the frequent moving and the consequent regular change of contexts on the one hand, and the work in their home environment on the other: How long the residency should last; how to become a resident with young children; how to build effective communication with the organizers and local art community; and how to incorporate the goals of the residency into the scope of one’s individual artistic tasks. Raising a lot of debate was the question whether art residencies should aim at a fixed goal or, rather, focus on the creative process itself and professional cooperation with the environment, without focusing on the result.
Speaking to the participants of the discussion, the director of Pro Helvetia Moscow Anna Arutyunova said that “residencies in today’s Russia is a heated topic: everyone runs residencies, takes part in residencies, and talks about residencies. However, the discourse around art residencies is often articulated by institutions, organizers, and sponsors, meaning the voice of artist is removed therefrom. Hence the importance of asking artists and learning what a residency means to its participants and what they expect it from it”. The discussion at Garage provided an opportunity to share honest opinions and learn more about the artists’ manifold experiences in different residencies, in full compliance with the initial goals set by the organizers of the event. The informal atmosphere instigated a free exchange of comments and viewpoints, allowing each of the artists to explain their vision of an “ideal” art residency.
To learn what ideal residencies should be like, use the transcription of the conversation via the link.
Photo: Anton Donikov © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art